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Performance of high street retailers’ websites begins to match the pure plays

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The results from eDigitalResearch’s latest E-retail Index shows that the battle on the high street has moved online, with traditional retailers taking advantage of their multi-channel offering, investing in online and, as a result, competing more with pureplay retailers than ever before. They appear to be succeeding with key rankings overall.

The index surveyed 43 of retail’s top performing websites, using the firm’s eMysteryShopper tool to evaluate each site based on the entire customer journey, from first impressions, homepage, shopping basket, purchase, delivery and supporting communications.

Traditional retailers are making substantial movements, with Marks and Spencer topping the quarterly index for the first time, making a significant jump from 10th place since the last index. Fashion retailers Next, House of Fraser and BHS have all moved up the index, as well as pureplay retailer Asos, which went from 23rd to fifth place. Grocers are also continuing to climb the table, with top performing websites from the purchase process through to delivery of goods.

“These results clearly show that people are changing their opinions about the ability of traditional retailers to compete online with their pureplay rivals,”comments Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch. “Our recent e-customer service index has already identified that online will continue to grow over the coming year, and with more and more traditional retailers extending their high-street reach online, it is equally vital that they get it right to continue competing with the high standard that pureplay is setting.”

“Recognition of the entire journey that each customer goes through is the key to success,” Eccleston continues. “It is not just about the homepage through to shopping basket, but how purchase, delivery, email and telephone contact is handled, if there are any problems, that make the difference. Marks and Spencer has made a significant investment in the entire customer journey, improving in all areas of their website, and particularly strong supporting communications. Telephone and email contact continues to rise in importance every quarter, showing that it is beginning to have more emphasis in digital strategy, which is great. However, there is still lots of room for continued improvement.”

One of the questions in the survey establishes a Net Promoter Score (NPS) to determine which companies are most likely to be recommended. This revealed that three of the top five retailers for positive word-of-mouth were traditional retailers. Last quarter, only one of the top five was a traditional retailer. John Lewis topped the table for word-of-mouth.

Readers can download a presentation free of charge that contains the study’s full league tables.

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